Sanctuary Cities: What and Where are they?

As part of his crackdown on immigration, sanctuary cities across the country are firmly in President Trump’s crosshairs.

The president has threatened to weaponize federal funding for cities that that refuse to comply with ICE deportation requests. However, many sanctuary cities have refused to lie down and California has begun fighting back with a federal court ruling against the legality of withholding such funding.

But what are sanctuary cities exactly?  Where are they and why does the President want to crack down on them?

What are Sanctuary cities?

In the United States, a sanctuary city is a city that limits it’s cooperation with the federal government in order to help illegal immigrants (or undocumented immigrants) avoid deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Proponents of sanctuary policies maintain that they actually make cities safer by fostering positive relationships between undocumented immigrants and law enforcement.  Thus making them more comfortable in reported a witnessed crime or cooperating with them.

There is no uniform policy and different jurisdictions have varying degrees of pushback, but it may include not inquiring about immigration status, refusing to use local law enforcement resources to detain immigrants, or not complying with Federal laws (8 U.S.C.1373 specifically) that prohibits localities from enacting policy that limits communication with ICE agents about a persons immigration status.

A Full List of Sanctuary Cities in the United States (2017)

Despite the nomenclature, often, sanctuary cities aren’t even cities at all, but entire counties or even entire states.   As of May, 2017, there are some 171 jurisdictions that have officially enacted sanctuary policies – the most common of which is refusal to honor ICE detainers without a warrant for the individual’s arrest.  Of those 171 jurisdictions, 37 are cities, four are states, the rest are counties.

Number of Sanctuary Jurisdictions by State

Sanctuary Cities in the U.S.

There are 37 official sanctuary cities currently in the U.S. – and the number is growing by the week.  These cities have official policies aimed at discouraging full cooperation with federal immigration deportation and detainer requests.  There are, however,  other cities that are “run like a sanctuary city” but do not have official city policies – Salt Lake City, UT comes to mind. (Conversely, some major cities fall in counties that have adopted sanctuary policies but do not have any of their own).

Berkley, CA
Los Angeles, CA
San Francisco, CA
Santa Ana, CA
Aurora, CO
Hartford, CT
New Haven, CT
Washington, D.C.
Alachua, FL
Miami, FL
Iowa City, IA
Chicago, IL
New Orleans, LA
Amherst, MA
Boston, MA
Cambridge, MA
Lawrence, MA
Northhampton, MA
Somerville, MA
Minneapolis MN
St. Paul, MN
Baltimore, MD
Detroit, MI
Lansing, MI
Newark, NJ
Benalillo, NM
San Miguel, NM
Ithaca, NY
New York City, NY
Springfield, OR
Philadelphia, PA
Providence, RI
Austin, TX
Houston, TX
Monteplier, VT
Winooski, VT
Milwaukee, WI


Four states have enacted or are in the process of enacting sanctuary policies at the state level.

California – In April 2017, the California Senate passed Senate Bill 54, a sanctuary state bill that bars state and local law enforcement from using their resources to help federal immigration enforcement.

Connecticut – CT governor Dannel Malloy issued a memo instructing both law enforcement and school officials not to give ICE agents access to schools or jails and refrain from detaining immigrants solely based on immigration status.  In addition the Connecticut General Assembly has proposed H.B. No. 6709,  an act to make Connecticut a “sanctuary state” for immigrants, regardless of residency status.

New Mexico  – In January 2017, New Mexico lawmakers introduced House Bill 116, entitled No Local Enforcement of Federal Immigration Law.  The bill aims to prevent local or state resources being used“for the purpose of detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is that they are persons of foreign citizenship who have entered or are residing in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws,” unless otherwise legally required to.  Currently, the sponsors of the bill are seeking revisions.

Colorado – In January 2017, House Bill 17-1230 was introduced by Colorado lawmakers. Labeled as “Protect Colorado Residents From Federal Government Overreach”, the would prohibit a state of local agency from assisting in detaining, creating or maintaining a registry,  or providing a persons immigration status to the federal government without determining it has a legal or constitutional purpose.

List of Sanctuary Counties in the United States


Alameda County
Contra Costa County
Los Angeles County
Monterey County
Napa County
Orange County
Orange County
Riverside County
Sacramento County
San Bernardino County
San Diego County
San Francisco County
San Mateo County
Santa Clara County
Santa Cruz County
Sonoma County


Arapahoe County
Boulder County
Denver County
Garfield County
Grand County
Jefferson County
Larimer County
Mesa County
Pitkin County
Pueblo County
Routt County
San Miguel County
Weld County


East Haven


Clay County
Hernando County


Clayton County
DeKalb County


Benton County
Cass County
Franklin County
Fremont County
Greene County
Ida County
Iowa City, Johnson County
Jefferson County
Marion County
Monona County
Montgomery County
Pottawattamie County
Sioux County


Cook County


Butler County
Harvey County
Sedgwick County
Shawnee County
Story County


Montgomery County
Prince George’s County


Hennepin County


Hall County
Sarpy County

New Jersey

Middlesex County
Ocean County
Union County

New Mexico

New Mexico County Jails


Clark County
Washoe County

New York

Franklin County
Nassau County
Omondaga County
St. Lawrence County
Wayne County


Baker County
Clackamas County
Clatsop County
Coos County
Crook County
Curry County
Deschutes County
Douglas County
Gilliam County
Grant County
Hood River County
Jackson County
Jefferson County
Josephine County
Lane Countyn
Lincoln County
Linn County
Malheur County
Marion County

Oregon Continued
Marlon County
Multnomah County
Polk County
Sherman County
Tillamok County
Umatilla County
Union County
Wallowa County
Wasco County
Washington County
Wheeler County
Yamhill CountyPennsylvaniaBradford County
Bucks County
Butler County
Chester County
Clarion County
Delaware County
Eerie County
Franklin County
Lebanon County
Lehigh County
Lycoming County
Montgomery County
Montour County
Perry County
Pike County
Westmoreland CountyRhode IslandProvidence, Rhode Island
Rhode Island Department of CorrectionsTexas

Dallas County
Travis County


Arlington County
Chesterfield County


Chelan County
Clallam County
Clark County
Cowlitz County
Franklin County
Jefferson County
King County
Kitsap County
Pierce County
San Juan County
Skagit County
Snohomish County
Spokane County
Thurston County
Walla Walla County
Wallowa County
Whatcom County
Yakima County

These lists are up to date as of May 2017, an are based on ICE reports of jurisdictions that have enacted policies, referendums, memos or otherwise stated that they will not fully cooperate with ICE detainer requests.



  • If these sanctuaries refuse to cooperate with the federal government and choose not to obey the law, why does the government continue to send money for law enforcement, roads and improvements? If a law enforcement agency refuses to detain an illegal can it(its administration) be charged with aiding and abetting or with another charge?

  • Sounds like conspiracies to commit a federal crime. Should be prosecuted under the RICO Act.

  • I want to be able to walk to the store, day or nght! What is wrong with that one woman on the city council who wants all of our freedom taken away? Sounds like a communist 2 me! Is she gng to tear down the statue(s) 2 erase our history too? Just sayin’!

  • Socialism has taken over our country big time and this has been happening over the last decades since the early sixties while most people have been allowing the crooked politicians in Washington line their pockets and turning a blind eye.

  • My grand parents came to this country for a better life but they did it legally. Why is this any different today. I’d You Decide To sneak in then you should be held accountable. I’m am NOT in favor of these stupid people placing you and I at risk by allowing more law breakers stay. If you break the law you must pay the price. These illegal individuals are law breakers. If you went to Mexico, there aren’t santuary cities for illegal Americans, why should there be here.

    Hurray up and build that wall so people whom want to come here lawfully and contribute to our society come in.

  • Amen to that!

    Forgive me for asking this question, I haven’t followed politics until very recently. I’m wondering if these sanctuary cities were put to a vote to be safe cities or states. Simply… Did the people have a say one way or another?

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